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p25_n66_Clipart_Book_Cover_1_KillingKillers of the Flower Moon. The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Gann. Doubleday, 2017. 291pp.

We are all aware of how badly the Native Americans were treated by the American government. One of the cruelest acts was The Trail of Tears, initiated by President Andrew Jackson, which removed many Native Americans from their reservations to Oklahoma. Four thousand died along the way.

Killer of the Flower Moon is another terrible chapter of mistreatment. In the 1920’s oil was discovered in lands that the Osage Indian Nation had been assigned. Now the Indians own some very valuable land, and, of course, the white men would like it back. Thus begins a series of murders of these Indians. No one was ever caught, or if they were, were never prosecuted due to the corruption of lawmen, judges, politicians and the general white population who did not want to take the side of an Indian over a white man. Of course there were good men who tried, but the corrupt system was too powerful.

The FBI, which was relatively new at the time, tried to investigate but couldn’t seem to make any progress. Finally, J. Edgar Hoover hired a former Texas Ranger, Tim White, to take charge. White was a tough but honest and capable man. This investigation took years and at times seemed impossible. Once  two of the killers were identified, it was still difficult to get them convicted.

This was a fascinating story. The book was given to me to read by Luis Lee, who as many of you know, lives in Suffield and is an American Indian of the Seneca Nation. His mother’s aunts were Osage. Amazon gives the book  four and one half stars and calls it one of the best books of the year. It may even be made into a movie.

                                   – C.M.

p25_n66_Clipart_Book_Cover_2_The_Last_Painting_of_Sara_de_LosThe Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith. Mac Millan Publishing Group LLS. 2016.287 pp.

This remarkable novel tells its story in three different time periods and places: the Netherlands in the l630’s; New York in the l950’s; Sydney, Australia in the year 2000. The date switches back and forth in a fascinating way. It begins on an evening in l957 when a valuable painting owned by a wealthy New Yorker is stolen and replaced with a forgery. The painting, “At the Edge of a Wood”, had been in the De Groot family for 300 years.

The plot then moves to Amsterdam in the 1630s, when the painter Sara de Vos was living. Her life with her husband, also a painter, is described: the tragic loss of her child, and the difficulties for a woman artist in that era. Then back we swing to New York in the fifties where Marty de Groot is trying to unravel the crime and recover his painting. Next, there is a swing down to Brooklyn, and the reader meets Ellie Shipley. She is a young Australian woman who left home to study art, and she will soon receive her PhD in art history from Columbia.                             

The book is a kind of mystery, combined with a great deal of art history, and a fascinating read.               – P.M.

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